Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

Director Paul Haggis Describes How Leah Remini Fought For Him Behind The Scenes Of Scientology

Leah Remini (Helga Esteb /
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
Your donation today keeps LAist independent, ready to meet the needs of our city, and paywall free. Thank you for your partnership, we can't do this without you.

Actress Leah Remini didn't give up on the Church of Scientology without a fight.Director and former Scientologist Paul Haggis penned an open letter to The Hollywood Reporter describing how Remini refused to be "pious." He says she refused to accept the easy answers to some of the aspects of Scientology that troubled her most, such as encouraging its members to "disconnect" from others who had left the Church.

When Haggis and Remini ran into each other a few months after he left the Church in 2009, Haggis kept his distance so that Remini wouldn't be in the awkward position of having to blatantly ignore a "suppressive person." But she refused to toe the line and cut a former friend out of her life: "She walked up, asked me why I was being weird and told me she would always be my friend and would never 'disconnect' from me. Then she dragged me over and introduced me to her family."

Haggis found out later that Remini was challenging the Church and defending Haggis behind the scenes:

Leah got in trouble because of me, because when I was “declared” a “Suppressive Person” and shunned, she came to my defense -- without me ever knowing it. She had shouting matches with Tommy Davis, then the church spokesman, who had come to try and keep her quiet. The fact that she fought within the system so resolutely for so long, never making her feelings public, is a testament to how much she believed in the basic goodness of her friends and the institution. Finally, according to what I read, she was turned in by a celebrity friend who had noticed one of our few innocuous tweets.
Support for LAist comes from

Haggis calls Remini's decision to leave brave: "Her parents, family and close friends were almost all Scientologists; the stakes for her were so much higher than for me."Haggis says the Church has gone into attack mode, encouraging former longtime friends of hers to trash her and setting up sock puppet accounts to comment on news stories about her departure. He suspects the Church will be feeding unflattering stories about Remini to the media.

A spokesperson for the Church told The Hollywood Reporter that Haggis is a “status-obsessed screenwriter” whose "'open letter' is nothing more than a transparent promotional gimmick." The Church has not commented on Remini leaving, saying, "The Church respects the privacy of parishioners and has no further comment."

UPDATE 1:20 p.m.: The Church of Scientology has released a response to Haggis' open letter. To say they don't sound happy with him would be an understatement:

Mr. Haggis is a status-obsessed screenwriter who in the words of The Hollywood Reporter has been in “the wilderness” professionally for three years. Mr. Haggis once again is exploiting his tenuous connection with Scientology to grab headlines. His statement that the organization anonymously comments negatively about those who leave the Church is delusional and borders on paranoia. Desperately craving attention, his self-serving "open letter" is a transparent plug for an upcoming film still lacking U.S. distribution. If Mr. Haggis was as successful and prolific at manufacturing drama for audiences as he is at manufacturing it for gossip sites, then his career might have never gotten lost in the “wilderness.”

Despite his spin, the truth is that Mr. Haggis was an inactive Scientologist for more than 30 years until he orchestrated a disingenuous “departure” in 2009 aimed solely at getting media attention. As a result, Paul Haggis has no first-hand knowledge about the Church of Scientology but instead relies on a small collection of unemployed bloggers living on the fringe of the Internet who are obsessed with spinning myths about the Church.

You can read the whole thing here.
Support for LAist comes from
Leah Remini Won't Stop Questioning Church Of Scientology
Leah Remini Leaves Church Of Scientology